Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer joins elite 1,000 wins club
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) One day, long after her decades on the bench are over, Tara VanDerveer will pull out a scrapbook of all the kind words and congratulations she received on this special night and she will reminisce.
She will think back to the confetti her players poured over her head because they knew they not dare pour water and get her drenched for all the photo ops. She will remember dear friend Pat Summitt, the woman VanDerveer joined in the elite 1,000 wins club Friday night. The Stanford coach will keep praising her parents and siblings, the athletic directors, assistant coaches and everybody else who supported her successful path.
”I’m going to get a copy of all the emails and text messages and sit in my rocker and say, `Wow,”’ VanDerveer said.
The Hall of Famer became just the second NCAA women’s coach to reach 1,000 career victories when No. 8 Stanford beat USC 58-42, with VanDerveer providing a major milestone to share with the home crowd at Maples Pavilion.
Before her team even took the floor Friday, VanDerveer told the Cardinal something: No, this wasn’t like just any other game. It had a little extra. It was special.
”It’s a wonderful, wonderful journey for me,” she said. ”This is a very big highlight of many highlights.”
Standing side by side beneath one basket afterward with one of her first marquee recruits, Jennifer Azzi, VanDerveer held a bouquet of red roses in one hand and a commemorative trophy from the Pac-12 in the other as tributes played on the big screen and others poured in on Twitter and social media. As far as special moments go, this will rank right up there among her great achievements.
With her record at 1,000-228, VanDerveer joins Summitt – who died last summer from early onset Alzheimer’s disease with 1,098 wins to her name – as the only other women’s coach with 1,000 victories. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is the only Division I men’s coach with 1,000.
”It’s an honor to be in her company. And Coach Krzyzewski’s company, too,” VanDerveer said.
After the game ended, her players moved to midcourt to hold up cutout numbers to form 1,000. The Cardinal (20-3, 10-1 Pac-12) presented her with a framed jersey featuring the number 1,000.
”Our team won’t believe this but I am really speechless,” an emotional VanDerveer said, greeted by chants of ”Tara! Tara!”
In her 38th season as a head coach and 31st on The Farm after previous stops at Idaho and Ohio State, VanDerveer had former stars like Azzi among the 4,490 fans in attendance and perhaps the biggest of all in 89-year-old mother, Rita. VanDerveer told her mother afterward she could now fly home to Colorado – she got what she came to see.
VanDerveer almost didn’t accept the Stanford job all those years ago, unsure she could turn the Cardinal program into a perennial powerhouse. Instead, she has groomed so many future WNBA stars while doing so with class and humility. She has adapted by changing offenses multiple times to best fit her roster.
She even acknowledged she might have reached 1,000 a lot faster if she stayed at Ohio State.
”Words cannot accurately describe how many lives she has actually touched,” USC coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. ”… 1,000 wins is unimaginable.”
More than anything, VanDerveer loves her players – and you bet she still loves winning and all the work and preparation it takes to do so.
”I have more than 1,000 memories of coaching,” VanDerveer said, then quickly added, ”… and I’m moving on to 1,001 Monday night.”
With a pair of NCAA titles in 1990 and `92, an Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games and 11 Final Four berths – including five straight from 2008-2012 – VanDerveer has meant so much to women’s basketball on the court and far beyond it as a positive influence and mentor to so many.
The 63-year-old VanDerveer did this one in front of the home fans at Maples Pavilion, after winning No. 800 against Azzi at the University of San Francisco in December 2010 and her 900th in November 2013 at a Thanksgiving tournament in Mexico. Former Stanford star Ros Gold-Onwude, the Golden State Warriors’ sideline reporter, called Friday’s game for TV and offered congrats on behalf of all the former Stanford players afterward.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott was on hand, too, to personally cheer her.
”In a career full of astounding successes, this feat is a true testament to her steadfast commitment to excellence at Stanford and her lasting legacy on the entire sport of basketball,” he said.
And, she certainly plans for many more wins – in fact, some of her former players hopes she takes a crack at 2,000 and coaches their children.
”She very well could,” athletic director Bernard Muir said Friday, ”it wouldn’t shock me.”
USC: After sweeping the Arizona schools last weekend, the Trojans missed out on a fourth victory against a ranked opponent this season. Simon led cold-shooting USC (12-10, 3-8) with 11 points. Sadie Edwards, averaging 11 points coming into the matchup, went 0 for 8.
Stanford: Karlie Samuelson made three second-half 3-pointers on the way to 21 points while Erica McCall added 18 points in Stanford’s seventh straight victory, an unbeaten run that included last Sunday’s win at Washington. ”I’ll never forget 999 either,” VanDerveer quipped.
USC: At California on Sunday.
Stanford: Hosts No. 13 UCLA on Monday night.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25